Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Checks for the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS)

The Boat Safety Scheme, or BSS, is a public safety initiative owned by the Canal & River Trust and the Environment Agency.  Its purpose is to help minimise the risk of boat fires, explosions, or pollution on the inland waterways. It's your boat's MOT and needs renewal every four years.
It is separate from the winterising process; from the normal checks for corrosion, rot and flaking paint; from regular engine maintenance and from regular cleaning of the water supply.

In preparation for Patience's BSS examination we compiled a list of checks we would make beforehand. The list of items on the certificate is lengthy and the list on their website is lengthy and comprehensive but I thought this ten point summary, though specific to our narrow boat, might be helpful.

  • LPG Gas. Possibly the most important. This can be checked frequently using an installed bubble tester which is more effective than a gas detector. Check condition of gas lines from gas container (which should be protected and sit firmly in the gas locker, which should in turn be secure and drained) to final appliance. Check shut off valve. More here.
  • Fire Extinguishers. Three in number, in good condition, accessible and near fire risk points. Plus a fire blanket.
  • Appliances. Refrigerator, cooker and hob, solid fuel stove. In good working order with appropriate flues and ventilation.
  • Vents. Clear. Including low level vents in doors and high level roof "mushrooms".
  • Fuel. Filling points, lines and connections must be secure with no leaks. Feel under each line for corrosion. Any extra fuel should be in secured jerrycans.
  • Engine and gearbox. Check for leaks. Replace bilge mat. Mop up leaks and ensure none escapes to the water outside.
  • Solid fuel stove. Flue and firebox in good condition (no leaks from above, no gaps in seals). Area clear of inflammable materials. 
  • Electrical systems. Batteries stored securely and cables in good condition. Fuses and circuit breakers functioning. Outlets in good condition.
  • Emergency escape. Ensure access to exits is uncluttered and that owners have agreed an action plan.
  • Detectors. We also checked our carbon monoxide, gas and smoke detectors.

And after that how did we do? Well, we passed successfully, but we will, of course, continue to take care, and put safety above all things. A four-year safety check helps to remind you of the importance of the maintenance of safety at all times.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The spring pump out

Spring has arrived at last. So on the first really warm day for ages, and being the first of May, what better than to get aboard Patience and take her out for a brisk pump out.
Last season, best forgotten for the weather, left us without time for pumping out as part of our routine winterising - so today we arranged for one by the nice chap at Nene Valley Boats. I think actually he was a bit disappointed that we couldn't produce more - but with last year's holidays cut short and a general tendency by us to use local pubs' loos whenever we are customers, I suppose we just couldn't fill the tank.
So here we are, just one lock and a quarter hour from our mooring at Oundle marina, (where they are planning to have pump out facilities as part of their development) and we are using Nene Valley Boats' portable pumpout, towed by a fine red landrover.

and finally, for those who are curious engineers, here's the very pump itself.

Later, inspired perhaps by the nice man at Nene Valley Boats, John spent some time reassembling our toilet pump. As it once cracked in a deep frozen winter we now drain it thoroughly, but this time it took a little while to get the gasket in place to ensure effective pumping. Nevertheless, job done and a full complement of fresh water on board we are now ready to go places.
There may be time for some painting up, but the river awaits ....